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Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers
Another traditional service offered by some EAPs is outplacement, in which employees who are leaving the company but remaining in the labor force are assisted with job-search counseling and skills assessment, help with resume writing, use of company telephones and copiers during the job search, and use of the company mailing address for a period following termination. This kind of service has generally been aimed at younger workers who are leaving the company because of layoffs. However, it could be adapted to serve older workers who expect to seek other work (bridge employment) after leaving their career jobs. Outplacement could also assist the older worker with customized searches for alternative jobs and/or volunteer positions, opportunities for retraining, and information on using legal protections against age discrimination. A 1989 telephone survey of 3,509 adults aged 50–64 found that longest-held positions typically ended long before normal retirement ages, creating a large pool of older individuals seeking bridge jobs in an employment climate rife with age discrimination (Ruhm, 1994).
The bridge employment choices facing older workers are quite complex, and outcomes differ considerably depending on how voluntary the career job exit is (Weckerle and Schultz, 1999). Ruhm (1994:73) notes: “Of particular concern is the limited ability of some groups of workers (nonwhites, females, the less educated, and those in poorly compensated occupations) to either retain longest jobs or to obtain acceptable bridge employment.” These older workers are less likely to be employed in large companies that have EAPs. Reaching them with outplacement support (and other EAP services) would require new strategies for encouraging small firms to make such services available to their workers—for example, tax incentives, technical assistance, and consortium arrangements (Donaldson and Klein, 1997).
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR WORKERS WITH IMPAIRMENTS AND RETURN-TO-WORK PROGRAMS
Accommodations for workers with impairments and return-to-work programs are both important interventions that may play an important role in maintaining older workers productively in the workforce because these workers are more likely to bring impairments into the workplace and because they are likely to be out of work longer than their younger colleagues after an injury.
Over the last 25 years, there have been changes both in the prevalent conceptual model of disability and in the public policy approach to people